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Eagle County Commissioners: Explaining the county’s response to coronavirus

Jeanne McQueeney, Matt Scherr and Kathy Chandler-Henry
Valley Voices
More information on coronavirus

By now you know we’re in the midst of a pandemic that has hit Eagle County.  We are seeing cases of community transmission of COVID-19, meaning that transmission isn’t just limited to travelers from other infected areas. We expect to see more cases in the coming days, and are especially concerned about our most vulnerable populations.

We wanted to let you know what’s in place at Eagle County to help us all get through this difficult time. At the outset, Eagle County Public Health and Environment identified four goals: 

  1. Rapidly detect the virus’ arrival in Eagle County.
  2. Slow the spread in our community once it is here.
  3. Limit the worried well from just showing up to a medical clinic, urgent care, or emergency department.
  4. Protect our friends, family members, and neighbors who may have the greatest risk for complications if infected.

We’ve met the first goal and are now concentrating on the remaining three.  And we have a lot of partners. Every morning at 9 a.m., the Emergency Operations Center at the county initiates a call to multiple agencies, including fire, emergency services, law enforcement, schools, health care providers, hospitals, social service workers, senior services, public health, communications, transportation, business leaders, and information technology. 

As your local elected officials, we listen in to these calls and it is inspirational to hear the mutual respect, efficiency, coordination, and collaboration that takes place. This isn’t something that was just created for COVID-19. These emergency operations were in place for the Lake Christine Fire, and our emergency operations teams practice together on a regular basis.

Birch Barron is the emergency operations director and Heath Harmon is the public health director and incident commander. Between them, they run the calls and find out who is short of supplies, who has supplies to share, how many tests are being performed, what resources are needed for those in quarantine, what our medical providers need, and more. We believe our county residents are in good hands, with smart professional providers working together as a well-oiled team.

We have allies around the region, too. On Thursday, Pitkin, Garfield, Gunnison, and Eagle Counties worked together to issue public health orders prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more people, and requiring smaller gatherings to ensure “social distancing.” That means leaving at least six feet of space between you and the next person. The goal is to “flatten the curve” to prevent a spike of cases putting stress on our health care system. We know this order may cause problems for the public, and we are happy to talk through any issues that arise.

Partners at the state are helping to locate masks and personal protective equipment to protect our critical health care workers and first responders.  Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is keeping its COVID-19 case summary up-to-date and public, so we can track what is happening around the state.

Western Coloradans are a resourceful bunch.  We come together to help our neighbors in times of need, and we take care of ourselves and our families.  Our best defense to protect our own health and our neighbors is to keep your distance, wash your hands, don’t go out if you’re sick, and know that we’ll get through this together.  Please let us know if you have questions or need help. We stand with our business community, our emergency services partners, and with you, our Eagle County residents. 


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